Places in mind…

I have always loved the countryside and spent a lot of time playing outside, as a child. I grew up on farms and nurseries and so, the appeal of the countryside has remained with me – and, particularly, the region in which I grew up and live now; West Sussex.

Writing Under the Yew Tree gave me license to remember the landscapes of my childhood and investigate further the activities and dynamics of the villages and farming communities I grew up with and worked within during my career.  I certainly had some key places in mind, whilst writing and several of my readers of Under the Yew Tree claim to recognise some of my landscape descriptions.

The village of Watersham itself in the book is a combination of villages local to where I live, in which you can imagine life in the 1940s; children walking to primary school; local shops and places of interest including the baker, the grocer, a tearoom, the church hall; and boys getting up to no good in the woods on the outskirts of the village!

Many of the descriptions of Downland views are based on areas of the South Downs outside Chichester, Arundel and north of Worthing, in West Sussex.

Village life in those days was a much tighter, closer-knit, and self-sustainable existence and I must admit, an element of that still appeals to me…

The question of a sequel…

About half way through writing Under the Yew Tree, I realised that there was another part of the story that needed telling about the residents and surroundings of Watersham, and so even at that early stage, I was thinking about the sequel.

With that initial realisation in mind, Ash before Oak is progressing faster than Under the Yew Tree did. The first novel set the ball in motion and ignited my interest in developing some of the other characters and fired my imagination to research other aspects of the Second World War and what could have been, had we fallen under German occupation.

The challenge now, of course is finding the time to sit and write Ash before Oak!  I’m not the kind of writer to set myself time slots for writing. I need to get into the frame of mind of the story; imagine myself as a character; hear the sounds, smell the scents, feel the grass or path beneath my feet, feel the emotion of the situation…

My aim is, however, to finish the sequel this year, so the clock is ticking!

Here’s a sneak preview of the first page.